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The cosmic egg hat: Is this Albanian hat about to catch on?

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Eva zu Beck adopts a new style in Albania.
Eva zu Beck adopts a new style in Albania.   -   Copyright  Euronews Travel
By Sarah Palmer  & Max Thurlow

Welcome to our latest video series, Rerouted: The Balkans, which sees social media influencer and YouTuber Eva zu Beck discover the cultures, customs and traditions of Eastern Europe. Eva takes us off-the-beaten-track on a road trip through Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Albania. We meet the wonderful Balkan people bringing a modern twist to ancient traditions and travel through pristine, untouched landscapes. You might not have planned to visit these countries before but one thing’s for sure - they’re about to become top of your travel bucket list.

As we embark on our final episode of the first season of ReRouted: The Balkans, we find Eva in Albania wearing a rather unusual hat.

After finding out more about Albanian food culture last week, Eva is now taking a look behind the scenes of the markets and bazaars scattered across Lezhë District in the north of the country.

Often, these market stalls feature a range of handmade, traditional arts and crafts - including the headpiece locally referred to as the ‘cosmic egg hat’.

What is the cosmic egg hat, and how is it made?

Part of an ancient dress, the ‘qeleshe’ or ‘plis’ is a brimless, white felt hat whose height varies from region to region.

In the video, Eva meets one of the milliners who learnt the process from his grandfather. Sheep’s wool is pressed and massaged until flat. It is then lathered in soap and water, slowly rubbed, stretched and moulded into shape.

The style of hat is thought to date back to Illyrian culture, around 1000 B.C., and has become the traditional dress for Albanian highlanders. It’s been depicted in many historical images and paintings throughout the country’s history.

Other traditional crafts from the Balkans

In this episode, Eva also finds out more about Albanian rug making, a handwoven process that can take 10 - 15 days of craft per square metre.

As she explains in the episode, this manual labour requires time, patience, skill and experience. Although many of the products we see on markets like these can appear costly, the reason behind the price becomes more apparent when we see firsthand the efforts that go into making them.

Find out more by pressing play on our final episode of Re:Routed: The Balkans series one.